BURNLEY, December 27 – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side proved they have the guts to rescue their spluttering season after grinding out a 1-0 win over Burnley.
After a miserable run which included their exit from the Champions League, Rodgers’ side have now lost once in their last nine games in all competitions.
Their victory at Turf Moor on Friday was their first win in four Premier League games and the result, secured by a Raheem Sterling’s well-taken goal in the 62nd-minute, lifted Liverpool up to ninth place.
Rodgers believes a top-four finish is still a possibility and with a home game to come against Swansea on Monday ahead of a trip to bottom club Leicester on New Year’s Day, the Reds will be confident of adding to their points tally over the festive period.
They may well have to play better than they did against a Burnley side which was unfortunate to lose for the first time in five home games after dominating the first half.
But Rodgers believes the manner of the performance bodes well for his team.
“In terms of our character and resilience in the game, we showed outstanding qualities when needed,” Rodgers said.
“I was really pleased with that. We had to show a different side to us, different types of qualities to what we showed against Arsenal and Bournemouth.
“We didn’t play too well in the first half but we defended well, got our blocks in, stopped crosses and it didn’t come into the box.
“We needed to show more composure in the second half. We made a change with Emre (Can) coming on.
“He showed real good athleticism and power and good footballing ability in that position and what we had to do in defending, we did well. The players deserve huge credit.”
– Poor run –
As well as bringing on Can in place of Kolo Toure at half-time, Liverpool were also forced into a change of goalkeepers after just 15 minutes when a thigh injury forced Brad Jones to come off.
That meant a return for Simon Mignolet, who had lost his place after a poor run of games culminating in Liverpool’s Champions League exit in early December.
“I thought he did well,” Rodgers added. “He came for a couple of crosses really well; caught one and punched one. He didn’t have a great deal to do, and his kicking was good.
“He’s worked hard since he came out of the team and he came on, kept a clean sheet and that was important for us.”
If Jones is ruled out of Monday’s game, Rodgers confirmed that 21-year-old Danny Ward will come on to the bench.
Burnley’s defeat leaves them in the relegation places ahead of Sunday’s trip to face champions Manchester City.
Clarets manager Sean Dyche was disappointed not to have any reward from what he considered to be his team’s best performance under his charge during the first 45 minutes.
But he insisted: “I’m encouraged. Sometimes you prefer an ugly one that you win but there’s no future in that, there’s a future in how we’re operating.
“I think it’s as well as we’ve played, considering the opposition, probably since I’ve been at the club.
“This is Liverpool Football Club and I thought we were if not totally dominant, we were very dominant and we were on all levels. But the game doesn’t last for one half obviously.”
Burnley were also lifted by the return of striker Sam Vokes, who scored 21 goals in their promotion success last season, as a substitute after being out since March with a knee injury.
And Rodgers believes Dyche’s squad has enough about them to stay up.
“He (Dyche) is a doing a brilliant job with the resources he has. He has got the team super-organised with a lot of hungry players who came up from the Championship, British players that know the league,” Rodgers added.